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Center of the Earth

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Customer Reviews

After lengthy hiatus, Earwig returns with another hit

Lizard McGee has ridden musical tides, nay, hidden below them for years, emerging again in 2006 aboard his own wind-powered Kon-Tiki. By now, he'd be labeled "career artist" if only there had been a career, beyond a few noteworthy successes and small, fervent followings in scattered population pockets across the United States. McGee’s beginnings in Columbus, Ohio seemed to indicate success was imminent and elusive career artist label within skinny arm’s reach. His band Earwig’s first full-length, 1993’s still-ingenious Mayfeeder, drew favorable comparisons to the more melodic sides of Nirvana’s Bleach and Pavement’s Slanted & Enchanted and inspired at least one national magazine to dub Cowtown “the next Seattle.” The world was right; McGee was on his way. Ah, but times and breaks are inconsistently fortuitous and momentum frequently fickle. Six years pass; shows are sporadic; boy bands popular; talent a non-import. You release a live album no one hearing can conjure a bad word about (save for the recording quality) and another raw studio disc hailed “brilliant” by many in the industry. Trouble is, again, not many hear them and no one signs your band. McGee, brave snail-paced soldier, marches on. Seven years later, we have Center of the Earth, commencing with a spruced-up version of “Used Kids,” originally released on the UK-only 2003 one-off EP of Earwig outtakes and rehashings, All That You Waited to Have. That track, and the 12 that follow on Center of the Earth, is exactly why McGee has become a career artist and Earwig should finally be mentioned in the same stratum as modern-day groups, like Weezer, to name one hazily hosted in the same emotional genre. Bands who have risen from their supposed short-termed world-conquering to again appeal to generations not born when their first release hit the shelves. Many tracks on Center of the Earth have been around a while in one form or another. “Used Kids” – named after the celebrated Columbus record shop from whence Earwig began – is nearly a decade old. The twisted, love dream-inspired “Japanese Girlfriend” and the spacey rocker “Outro” have been available on the Internet for months. A rawer “Seattle” was previously presented on the above-mentioned live disc, Bored in Chicago. Those tracks – and others like the harrowing “Deadwood” (inspired by McGee’s jaunt to Alcatraz) and its emotional companion, “Red Heart,” show why McGee’s works should stand alongside most any others’. When Mayfeeder was released all that time-flying-by-decade-and-a-half ago, Earwig was aggressive. The music was raw, low budget and unrefined but the melodies and story-telling – those precious commodities so few artists have ever been able to successfully combine – tantalized underneath, like the bubblegum at the center of a lollipop. Or, as McGee says in “Red Heart,” “… like chocolate in my mouth.” Nineteen ninety-nine’s Perfect Past Tense, an album that should be in the Top 10 all-time of anyone of intellect allowing it a few spins, continued on course, with a couple polished songs by Platinum-selling producer Jared Kotler kicking things off. One of those, the stripped-down pop-punker “Drag,” was the closest Earwig has had to a hit single. Hard-hitting, poppy and full of energy, it would be a hit if enough people heard it. But you’ve heard that argument before. The remainder of Perfect Past Tense, was like a Mayfeeder II: yet, somehow, better and more grown-up. The songwriter’s themes, as had his life, evolved. McGee had become more emotional, open, heartbroken. He was growing and we were experiencing it like it was our own life; if we’d stuck with him during his lengthy hiatus, it felt like it was. But when you operate on a “micro-indie” level, as McGee likes to call his Lizard Family Music, music isn’t paying the bills. It’s a hobby and part-time obsession, tossed into the daily routine alongside hiking, woodworking and bottle-cap collecting, but certainly not adding much to the household income. So we waited. For this. Center of the Earth is only 39 minutes, including a not-so-well-hidden bonus track, “She’s Scary,” which is closer to 20 years old than 10 and predates two of the three pieces now playing it. That many years on, the track still sounds fresh, if somewhat amateurish considering what proceeds it. That’s not to say “She’s Scary” is bad. It’s certainly not. But what proceeds it is grown-up grunge, what Nirvana may be if Kurt Cobain hadn’t grown weary of the machine. One reason to be thankful Earwig has never been a part of it. Perhaps most exciting is the material not on Center of the Earth, because if you can save your A-game for another day and still dominate, much chance doesn’t exist for your opponents. When near-perfect songs like “Shiny Morning,” “Wicked,” “Waiting for Tomorrow” and “Next Christmas” (which may indeed be perfect) can remain tucked away in your arsenal – like that hyper-accelerated Michael Jordan dunk you wondered where it came from when he pulled it out at the most crucial moment – for another day yet your album is still better than possibly anything released within six months on either side … thank heaven for the divinity while praying the world takes notice to serve Earwig justice. If for nothing else, to simply speed up McGee’s raft so there’s more music more regularly. Release Center of the Earth on SubPop and it’s on college radio across the country. Release it on Geffen and the world falls in love. Release it on LFM Records and … I’ve been to the heaven where it all begins/it’s the same as the hell where it all ends. – from “Deadwood” Let’s hope we never meet in hell, Mr. McGee & Co. Because quality music like Earwig should never be allowed to end. It’s certainly created heaven for those of us who have bothered to listen.


I stumbled onto this band and am blown away. They rock live and they embrace production like a band twice their years!! Great stuff.


heard this band on "bubba the love sponge" unsigned band review. I agree with the guys, griz-zate jiz-zob. bubba army approved!


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The roots of Earwig trace to a small video/music shop in Columbus, OH, were guitarist and vocalist Lizard McGee met bassist Rich Cefalo. With the lineup complete in 1992 after the recruitment of drummer Justin Crooks, the three-piece churned out their energetic indie pop that was melodic and complex at the same time. Accompanied by McGee's heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics, Earwig's debut single, Dinosaur Song/Wounded Knee, came out in 1993 with their first album, Mayfeeder, two years later. Released through...
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Center of the Earth, Earwig
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